Rarely seen penalty nearly spoils Steelers win

A rarely seen penalty nearly spoiled the Pittsburgh Steelers’

38-31 win Sunday over the Packers.

Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was called for illegal batting in

the third quarter when he poked the ball out of bounds after it had

been loose following a blocked field goal.

Officials conferred a few minutes before calling the penalty and

awarding the ball back to Green Bay, ruling the Steelers never

controlled it and that it never crossed the line of scrimmage of

the Steelers 5.

Referee Carl Cheffers described batting to a pool reporter as an

intentional act of striking the ball in a loose ball situation in

the direction of a team’s own goal line.

Pittsburgh held on after a Packers pass into the end zone sailed

incomplete as time expired.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark said he had possession but lateraled

the ball when he was slowed by a sprained ankle. The ball ended up

squirting free.

”It’s human error in this game,” Clark said. ”The guy didn’t

see it, he didn’t have the opportunity to know if I had possession,

so he made the call that he saw and that’s part of football. It’s

no big deal, we won.”

Cheffers, though, said the officials took extra time to

determine whether or not there was possession. He also said the

Packers could have advanced the ball since it never crossed the

line of scrimmage.

”Any time the ball is behind the line of scrimmage on a blocked

field goal like that, the offensive team has every right to advance

the ball,” Cheffers said.

The frantic sequence of events started when Steve McClendon

blocked Mason Crosby’s 23-yard try.

”I know batting is a penalty, but I didn’t know that it would

get us the ball back,” Crosby said. ”Happy it did, but we came

out on the short end.”

Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org